Seize the Daylight
Seize the Daylight About Seize the Daylight David Prerau Daylight Saving Time Buy Seize the Daylight
A Brief History of Daylight Saving Time

from David Prerau's Seize the Daylight, the definitive daylight saving time book

Benjamin Franklin: Benjamin Franklin, living in Paris, first conceived the notion of daylight saving time. He wrote that he was awakened early and was surprised that the sun was up, well before his usual noon rising. He humorously described how he checked the next two days and found that, yes, it actually did rise so early every day. Imagine, he said, how many candles could be saved if people awakened earlier, and he whimsically suggested firing cannons in each square at dawn "to wake the sluggards and open their eyes to their true interest."



William Willett (1857-1915)
 

William Willett: British builder William Willett was up early for his pre-breakfast horseback ride in 1905. He lamented how few people were enjoying the "best part of a summer day", and he came up with the idea of moving the clocks forward in summer to take advantage of the bright beautiful mornings and to give more light in the evening. He fought for years to introduce DST in Britain, but died never seeing his idea come to fruition.

World War I: During World War I, DST was first adopted in Germany, which was quickly followed by Britain and countries on both sides, and eventually, America. Daylight replaced artificial lighting and saved precious fuel for the war effort.

Post–World War I: American farmers fought and defeated urban dwellers and President Woodrow Wilson and got DST repealed, returning the country to "God's Time.” Spotty and inconsistent use of daylight saving time in the United States and around the world caused problems, unusual incidents and, occasionally, tragedies. For example, disregard of a change to DST caused a major train wreck in France, killing two and injuring many.

World War II: All combatants on both sides quickly adopted DST to save vital energy resources for the War. The U.S. enacted FDR's year-round DST law just 40 days after Pearl Harbor.

Chaos and High Cost of Non-Uniform DST, 1960s: Widespread confusion was created when each locality could start and end DST as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. And on one West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars of costs to several industries, especially transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the equivalent today of over $12 million per year.

Oil Embargo, 1973: The Arab Oil Embargo caused the first prolonged peacetime energy shortage in the United States, and the country quickly established year-round daylight saving time to save energy. The U. S. Department of Transportation found that with almost no cost as compared to other energy conservation options, DST reduced the national electrical load by over 1%, saving 3,000,000 barrels of oil each month. After the crisis was over, the U.S. reverted to six months of DST, from May through October. This period as extended in 1986 to include April.

Uniformity in Europe, 1996: After many years of non-uniformity of DST policy in Europe, and especially between the Continent and the United Kingdom, the European Union adopted the summer time period that had been in use in the U.K. for many years: the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.

Extension in the U. S., 2007: As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the U.S. DST period was extended by three-to-four weeks in the spring and one week in the fall, commencing 2007.

Numerous Other Effects: Daylight saving time has affected an immense breadth of people, places, policies, and activities. For a deeper glimpse into daylight saving time's wide reaching impacts, view the Index from Seize the Daylight


Current Observance of Daylight Saving Time

Worldwide: William Willett would be happy to know that daylight saving time is now employed in about seventy countries around the world, including almost every major industrialized nation. It affects well over a billion people each year. Sunrises, sunsets, and day lengths of countries near the equator do not vary enough during the year to justify the use of DST, but even in those countries it is sometimes adopted, especially for energy conservation. It remains controversial in several locations, such as Queensland, Australia.

United States: In the United States from 1987 through 2006, a daylight saving time period of almost seven months was in effect: from 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in April to 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.

A law passed in 2005 extended the daylight saving time period by about one month, beginning in 2007. Thus for 2007 and beyond, the daylight saving time period is:

2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March
to
2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November

Currently, the entire country observes this DST period of almost eight months, except for the states of Arizona and Hawaii, and the U. S. insular areas of Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam--all of which have chosen to stay on standard time all year. In 2005, Indiana, which had long been a continuing hotbed of DST controversy, passed a law adopting statewide daylight saving time, starting in 2006.

The DST Period in the United States:

For 2005, from Sunday April 3 to Sunday October 30.
For 2006, from Sunday April 2 to Sunday October 29.
For 2007, from Sunday March 11 to Sunday November 4.
For 2008, from Sunday March 9 to Sunday November 2.
For 2009, from Sunday March 8 to Sunday November 1.
For 2010, from Sunday March 14 to Sunday November 7.
For 2011, from Sunday March 13 to Sunday November 6.
For 2012, from Sunday March 11 to Sunday November 4.
For 2013, from Sunday March 10 to Sunday November 3.
For 2014, from Sunday March 9 to Sunday November 2.
For 2015, from Sunday March 8 to Sunday November 1.
For 2016, from Sunday March 13 to Sunday November 6.
For 2017, from Sunday March 12 to Sunday November 5.
For 2018, from Sunday March 11 to Sunday November 4.
For 2019, from Sunday March 10 to Sunday November 3.
For 2020, from Sunday March 8 to Sunday November 1.

 

United Kingdom and European Union: In these countries, a "summer time" (daylight saving time) period of seven months is utilized:

1 a.m. UTC/GMT on the last Sunday in March
to
1 a.m. UTC/GMT on the last Sunday in October

The Summer Time Period in the United Kingdom and the European Union:

For 2005, from Sunday March 27 to Sunday October 30.
For 2006, from Sunday March 26 to Sunday October 29.
For 2007, from Sunday March 25 to Sunday October 28.
For 2008, from Sunday March 30 to Sunday October 26.
For 2009, from Sunday March 29 to Sunday October 25.
For 2010, from Sunday March 28 to Sunday October 31.
For 2011, from Sunday March 27 to Sunday October 30.
For 2012, from Sunday March 25 to Sunday October 28.
For 2013, from Sunday March 31 to Sunday October 27.
For 2014, from Sunday March 30 to Sunday October 26.
For 2015, from Sunday March 29 to Sunday October 25.
For 2016, from Sunday March 27 to Sunday October 30.
For 2017, from Sunday March 26 to Sunday October 29.
For 2018, from Sunday March 25 to Sunday October 28.
For 2019, from Sunday March 31 to Sunday October 27.
For 2020, from Sunday March 29 to Sunday October 25.

 



Author David Prerau continues to collect information on DST effects, incidents, and anecdotes, and he is also happy to receive any comments or questions related to DST and time in general. Please email prerau@seizethedaylight.com

For further information on Seize the Daylight, email info@seizethedaylight.com
Media requests: Basic Books (212) 340-8107 or (212) 340-8163 or Basic.Publicity@perseusbooks.com Or contact prerau@seizethedaylight.com
Speaking Engagements: Contact prerau@seizethedaylight.com


Join the Mailing List by clicking here.


All material © David Prerau 2013